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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



1218
Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 23-28


nanAt that time, then, and up to this point in its history, the state advanced together with the democracy, and gradually increased in power. But after the Median war the council of the Areopagus again became powerful, and administered the government, having got the leadership, not from any formal decree, but from having brought about the sea-fight at Salamis. For when the generals had shown themselves quite unequal to the emergency, and had proclaimed a sauve qui peut, the Areopagus came forward with funds, and distributing eight drachmae to each sailor, so manned the ships. For this reason they yielded to its claims, and the Athenians were governed well at this particular period; for circumstances led them to give their attention to war: they were held in high esteem among the Greeks, and made themselves masters of the sea, despite the Lacedemonians. The leaders of the people in these days were Aristides, the son of Lysimachus, and Themistokles, the son of Neokles, the latter devoting himself to military matters, while the former enjoyed the reputation of being a sagacious statesman, and conspicuous for justice among his contemporaries. They accordingly made use of the services of the one in war, and of the other in council. The rebuilding of the walls, however, was conducted by both of them together, notwithstanding their political differences; but it was Aristides who urged on the revolt of the Ionians and the alliance with the Lacedemonians, watching his opportunity when the Laconians had been brought into ill-odour by the doings of Pausanias. This was the reason why it was he who apportioned to the cities the tributes which were first imposed in the third year after the sea-fight at Salamis in the archonship of Timosthenes, and why he made a treaty with the Ionians, offensive and defensive, in confirmation of which they sunk the bars of iron in the sea.


nanAfter this, when the city was now in good heart and its treasury overflowing, he advised the people to lay a claim to national supremacy, and to leave the country, and come and live in the city; saying that there would be the means of living for all, for some in military service, for others in keeping guard, and for the rest in public employments, and that in this way they would obtain national supremacy. Yielding to these representations, they assumed the leadership of Greece, and treated the allies in sufficiently lordly fashion, except the Chians and Lesbians and Samians; for these they kept as guards of their empire, leaving them their forms of government, and not interfering with their rule over such subjects as they had. They established for the masses easy means of subsistence, just in the way Aristides had shown them; for from their tributes and their taxes and their allies the maintenance of more than twenty thousand men was provided. There were six thousand jurors, and sixteen hundred archers, and in addition to them twelve hundred cavalry, five hundred of the Council, and guards of the dockyards five hundred, and in the city fifty guards, and home magistrates up to seven hundred men, and men on foreign service up to seven hundred; and besides these, when they afterwards engaged in war, two thousand five hundred hoplites, and twenty guard-ships, and other ships which brought the tributes, manned by two thousand men chosen by lot, and further the Prytaneum, and orphans and guards of prisoners; for all these derived their maintenance from the public funds.


nanThe people therefore got its means of support in this way. And for about seventeen years after the Persian war the constitution was maintained under the presidency of the Areopagitae, although it was gradually losing ground. But as the masses were increasing in power, Ephialtes, the son of Sophonides, with the reputation of being incorruptible and of entertaining just intentions towards the constitution, became leader of the people, and made an attack on the council. First he made away with many of the Areopagitae, bringing actions against them for their administration. Afterwards, in the archonship of Konon, he stripped the council of all the privileges, in right of which it was the guardian of the constitution, and made them over partly to the five hundred and partly to the courts of justice. And he carried out these measures in conjunction with Themistokles, who was one of the Areopagitae, and about to be put on his trial on the charge of Medism. And desiring the overthrow of the council, Themistokles told Ephialtes that the council intended to seize him as well as himself, while at the same time he told the Areopagitae that he would point out to them those who were banding together for the overthrow of the government. And taking the persons who were despatched by the council to the house of Ephialtes, to point out to them those who were meeting together there, he joined in earnest conversation with the representatives of the council. And Ephialtes, seeing this, in alarm took refuge at the altar with only his tunic on. All wondered at what had happened, and when the Council of the five hundred assembled afterwards, Ephialtes and Themistokles brought accusations against the Areopagitae, and again before the people in the same way, until they stripped them of their power. And Ephialtes also was got rid of, being treacherously murdered not long afterwards by Aristodicus of Tanagra. So the council of the Areopagitae was in this way deprived of its supervision of the state.


nanAfter this, in the course of circumstances, the constitution became further weakened through the zeal of the leaders of the people, for in these times, as it fell out, the more moderate party was without a leader. Now Kimon, the son of Miltiades, was at their head, a man comparatively young, and who had entered upon public life late. Moreover, the greater portion of this party had been destroyed in war, which happened in this way: The army was enrolled in those times from those who were on the list for service, and generals were appointed to command who had no experience of war, but were held in honour for their ancestral glories, the consequence of which was, that those who went to the wars perished by two or three thousand at a time. In this way the moderate men, both of the people and of the well-to-do, were used up. Now, in everything else the government was administered differently to what it was before, when men gave heed to the laws, but the election of the nine archons was not disturbed. Still, in the sixth year after the death of Ephialtes, they decreed that those who were to be balloted for in the elections of the nine archons should be selected also from the Zeugitae, and the first of that class who filled the office was Mnesitheides. But all before him had belonged to the Knights and Pentakosiomedimni, while the Zeugitae used to hold the offices that went round in succession (but not the archonship), unless some oversight of the provisions of the laws chanced to occur. In the fifth year after this, in the archonship of Lysikrates, the thirty jurors were again established, who were called after the demes. In the third year after him, in the archonship of Antidotus, owing to the great increase in the number of citizens, they decreed, on the proposal of Perikles, that no one should share in political rights unless both his parents were citizens.


nanAfter this Perikles came to lead the people. He first made a name for himself when, as a young man, he called in question the accounts of Kimon during his command. The constitution then became, in the course of events, still more democratical; for he stripped the Areopagitae of some of their privileges, and, what was the cardinal point of his policy, urged on the state to acquire naval power, in consequence of which the masses grew bold, and drew the whole government more into their own hands. And in the forty-ninth year after the seafight at Salamis, in the archonship of Pythodorus, the Peloponnesian war broke out, during which the people, shut up as they were in the city and accustomed to serve for pay in the armies, partly of their own free will, and partly against their wishes, elected to administer the government themselves. And Perikles was the first to introduce pay for the services of the jurors, thus bidding for popularity as against the influence that Kimon derived from his ample means. For Kimon, as the possessor of royal wealth, first discharged the public services with great splendour, and afterwards supported many of the members of his deme. Any of the Lakiadae who liked might go to him every day to get their rations; moreover, all his grounds were left unfenced, so that anyone who liked could help himself to the fruit. But as Perikles did not possess the means of indulging in public expenditure of this kind, on the advice of Damonides of Oea, who had the reputation of being the prompter of Perikles' wars, for which reason also they ostracised him later), since his private property did not allow him to provide subsistence for the populace, he instituted pay for the jurors. And to these causes some assign the deterioration in the conduct of affairs, as the appointments to office were designedly made more and more by haphazard instead of by merit. And bribery in the law courts also began to be practised after this, Anytus being the first to show how to do it after his command at Pylos; for when he was put upon his trial for losing it, he bribed the court and was acquitted.


nanSo long then as Perikles was at the head of the people, the government went on better, but on his death it became much worse. For then, for the first time, the people took for its leader a man who was not held in respect by such as entertained moderate views; whereas in former times it had always, without exception, been led by men of character. For it began with Solon, who was the first to come forward as the leader of the people; and next Peisistratus, who belonged to the nobles and upper class; and after the overthrow of the tyranny came Kleisthenes, who was of the house of the Alkmaeonidae, and had no party-leader in opposition to him after the banishment of Isagoras and his faction. After this Xanthippus was at the head of the people, while Miltiades represented the upper classes. Next came Themistokles and Aristides; after them Ephialtes was at the head of the democratic party, and Kimon, the son of Miltiades, at the head of the wealthy classes. Then Perikles represented the democratic party, and Thucydides, who was a connection by marriage of Kimon, the other side. On the death of Perikles, Nikias took the lead of the nobles, he who met his end in Sicily; and of the democratic party, Kleon, the son of Kleaenetus. He has the reputation of having, more than any other man, led the people astray by his impetuosity, and was the first to raise his voice to a shriek from the rostra and indulge in abusive language, and to harangue with his apron on, while everybody else respected the ordinary decencies of public speaking. After them Theramenes, the son of Hagnon, led the other side, while at the head of the people was Kleophon, the lyre-maker, who first introduced the payment of the two obols. For some time he distributed it, but afterwards Kallikrates, the Paeanian, put a stop to it, having first promised that he would add another obol to the two obols. Later on they were both condemned to death; for it is the custom of the masses, when they discover that they have been grossly deceived, to hate those who have led them on to do anything that is not right. And from Kleophon onward the leadership of the people successively passed without interruption to such men as were the most willing to act boldly and gratify the populace, looking only to the immediate present. For of those who conducted the government at Athens, and succeeded to the old rulers, Nikias and Thucydides and Theramenes appear to have approved themselves the best. In the case of Nikias and Thucydides almost all agree that they showed themselves to be not only good and honourable men, but also fit to govern, and that they administered the state in every respect in conformity with the national traditions. With regard to Theramenes, however, as disturbances in the forms of government occurred in his time, opinions differ. Still, he seems to such as do not express a mere off-hand opinion, not to have overthrown all these forms, as his accusers charge him with doing, but to have carried on all of them so long as they did not contravene the laws; thus acting like a man who was able to live under any form of government, which is indeed the duty of a good citizen, but who would not be a party to any that was contrary to the law, and so he became an object of hatred.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

4 results
1. Herodotus, Histories, 7.144.1-7.144.2 (5th cent. BCE - 5th cent. BCE)

2. Thucydides, The History of The Peloponnesian War, 1.20.2, 1.89, 1.100, 1.108, 1.126.3-1.126.12, 6.54-6.59, 8.48-8.49, 8.52-8.56, 8.65-8.69, 8.81-8.82, 8.84, 8.86, 8.89, 8.97 (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

1.20.2. The general Athenian public fancy that Hipparchus was tyrant when he fell by the hands of Harmodius and Aristogiton; not knowing that Hippias, the eldest of the sons of Pisistratus, was really supreme, and that Hipparchus and Thessalus were his brothers; and that Harmodius and Aristogiton suspecting, on the very day, nay at the very moment fixed on for the deed, that information had been conveyed to Hippias by their accomplices, concluded that he had been warned, and did not attack him, yet, not liking to be apprehended and risk their lives for nothing, fell upon Hipparchus near the temple of the daughters of Leos, and slew him as he was arranging the Panathenaic procession. 1.126.6. Whether the grand festival that was meant was in Attica or elsewhere was a question which he never thought of, and which the oracle did not offer to solve. For the Athenians also have a festival which is called the grand festival of Zeus Meilichios or Gracious, viz. the Diasia. It is celebrated outside the city, and the whole people sacrifice not real victims but a number of bloodless offerings peculiar to the country. However, fancying he had chosen the right time, he made the attempt. 1.126.7. As soon as the Athenians perceived it, they flocked in, one and all, from the country, and sat down, and laid siege to the citadel.
3. Aeschines, Against Timarchus, 25 (4th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

4. Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, 27.1, 27.3 (4th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
aeschines, against ctesiphon Westwood, The Rhetoric of the Past in Demosthenes and Aeschines: Oratory, History, and Politics in Classical Athens (2020) 55
aeschines, against timarchus Westwood, The Rhetoric of the Past in Demosthenes and Aeschines: Oratory, History, and Politics in Classical Athens (2020) 55
aeschylus Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393
areopagus Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393, 400
argos Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393
aristotle, aristotle, athenian constitution Westwood, The Rhetoric of the Past in Demosthenes and Aeschines: Oratory, History, and Politics in Classical Athens (2020) 55
aristotle Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
aristotle aristotle Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393, 400
aristotles constitution of the athenians (athenaion politeia) Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393, 400
athenaion politeia Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
athens Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393
cimon Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393, 400
cleophon, used by aeschines Westwood, The Rhetoric of the Past in Demosthenes and Aeschines: Oratory, History, and Politics in Classical Athens (2020) 55
comedy, and politics Westwood, The Rhetoric of the Past in Demosthenes and Aeschines: Oratory, History, and Politics in Classical Athens (2020) 55
democracy Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 400
democratic ideology Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393
diodorus siculus Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
discourse Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393
fleet Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 400
goldhill, s. Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393
herodotus Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 400
imitation, of ancestors Westwood, The Rhetoric of the Past in Demosthenes and Aeschines: Oratory, History, and Politics in Classical Athens (2020) 55
imitation, of historical models Westwood, The Rhetoric of the Past in Demosthenes and Aeschines: Oratory, History, and Politics in Classical Athens (2020) 55
imitation, of other politicians Westwood, The Rhetoric of the Past in Demosthenes and Aeschines: Oratory, History, and Politics in Classical Athens (2020) 55
imitation, of statues poses Westwood, The Rhetoric of the Past in Demosthenes and Aeschines: Oratory, History, and Politics in Classical Athens (2020) 55
isocrates, and the past Westwood, The Rhetoric of the Past in Demosthenes and Aeschines: Oratory, History, and Politics in Classical Athens (2020) 55
judges Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 400
oenophyta Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
oligarchic conspiracy/revolution (nan Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
oratory Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393
pericles Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393, 400
polis Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393
politics Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 400
praise Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393
rhodes, p. Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393, 400
solon, and aeschines Westwood, The Rhetoric of the Past in Demosthenes and Aeschines: Oratory, History, and Politics in Classical Athens (2020) 55
statue of, in salamis Westwood, The Rhetoric of the Past in Demosthenes and Aeschines: Oratory, History, and Politics in Classical Athens (2020) 55
statue of solon Westwood, The Rhetoric of the Past in Demosthenes and Aeschines: Oratory, History, and Politics in Classical Athens (2020) 55
statues (honorific), in the salaminian agora Westwood, The Rhetoric of the Past in Demosthenes and Aeschines: Oratory, History, and Politics in Classical Athens (2020) 55
thucydides, son of melesias, manuscript traditionnan Rengakos and Tsakmakis, Brill's Companion to Thucydides (2006) 671
thucydides Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 400
tragedy' Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393
wilson, p. Poet and Orator: A Symbiotic Relationship in Democratic Athens (2019)" 393